Postseason Thoughts from a Fan Standing on the Outside
October 6th, 2010 by slangon

So today starts the 2010 Major League Baseball Postseason. Some of you may be shocked to learn that my beloved Mets did not make the cut this year. Yeah. I know. Crazy, isn’t it? Anyway, despite not having my team in the mix to root for, I still always love watching the playoffs and the World Series. Of course, it’s always more fun to watch when you actually are rooting for a team, so I usually sort of leech onto one of the teams that did make it and root for them. So lets take a look at who’s in and figure out who I’m going to become a fair weather fan of.

Let me start by saying that generally speaking in these circumstances I find it a little hard to root for a National League team despite the fact that I’m normally somewhat of a N.L. homer. I just find it hard to root for the National League representatives in the playoffs knowing that my team, who also happens to play in the senior circuit, is at home watching on television the same as me. Now thats not a steadfast rule, but it normally turns out that I find myself rooting for an American League team.

I also want to point out that since I’m not really a fan of whatever team I latch onto, if they get knocked out I’ll just move onto another team that’s still in it. Yes. That’s pretty despicable, I know. What do you want from me? I’m just watching because I love baseball.

Anyhow, lets look at the suitors for my fandom over the next few weeks, shall we.

First up, from the National League West, we have the San Francisco Giants. Honestly, when I look at that team, I get the same reaction as looking at a brick wall. They do nothing for me. That’s not a knock on their talent, mind you. They seem to be lacking a bit in the offense department, but their pitching staff looks pretty damn stacked. When I look for a team to temporarily root for though, I need some character. To me the Giants, outside of the Kung-Fu Panda and the Freak, don’t do it for me.

Next is the representative from that power house division, the N.L. Central. I don’t know why, but I never really liked the Reds. They never did anything to me, but I just don’t like them, which is sort of odd. They actually have a bunch of young guys on that team that I sort of like. Votto. Cueto. Volquez. Hell, I even like Dusty Baker. I even like the guy on the card above, even though he always seems to kill the Mets. How could you not like a feller with a smile like that? I also usually find myself rooting for teams that haven’t done anything in forever and weren’t really expected to do much now, which is the boat that the Redlegs are in. Still, I think I’ll pass.

Rounding out the last of the National League division winners, we find ourselves in the City of Brotherly Love. Keeping in mind that I’m a die-hard Mets fan, I don’t think that I really need to get into why I won’t be rooting for the Phightin’ Phils. I will say, however, that if you asked my brain who was going to at least be the National League representative in the 2010 World Series, and possible win it, I would say Mr. Howard and company. Alas, as a fan, I do not root with my brain. Which probably explains why I’m a Mets fan.

Lastly, we have the N.L. Wild Card team. An interesting dynamic has emerged here. Being a Mets fan, I’ve spent years and years despising the Bravos. Probably not to the intensity as a Red Sox fan despises the Yankees, but I hated them pretty bad. Over the last few seasons, with the emergence of my hatred for the Phillies, my Atlanta-phobia has cooled to a degree. I still don’t like the Braves but once it was clear that the Mets were the lame duck in the N.L. East pennant chase, I did find myself rooting the Braves on in hopes that they would keep Phillie at bay. We all know that that didn’t happen, but if I were to root for a National League team in the playoffs this year, surprisingly, it would be the Braves. I really like that Heyward kid. I’ve always begrudgingly liked Brian McCann. I have much respect for crusty old Bobby Cox. I was really rooting for him to break John McGraws career ejections record, and I think it would be cool to see Bobby win one more Series in his last year in baseball.

Let’s see if any of the Junior Circuit candidates can compete with the tenuous hold that Atlanta seems to have on my heart.

Honestly I never figured the Yankees for winning the Wild Card. I thought for sure that they were going to win the division and figured the Rays would be heading into October as the Wild Card. Goes to show, anything can happen in baseball, even with a $200 million payroll. Of course, as a Mets fan who is belittled by holier-than-thou Yankees fans on a daily basis, I could never in a million years root for them. Actually, last year when they played the Phils in the World Series, I initially told myself I’d root for the Bombers since I didn’t want to root for the Phillies, but as I watched the games I just couldn’t do it. I also find it humorous that over the last few days many of the calls to the local sport talk radio station have been from Yankees fans who are trying to claim that winning the Wild Card rather than the Division was the Yankees plan all along because they would rather face the Twins in the first round than the Rangers. Some even seemed to try and make it seem like Joe Girardi purposely planned it that way. One of the hosts, Steve Somers, who happens to be a Mets fan, started to make fun of them all, asking “What happened to the Yankees that feared no team?”

And speaking of the Wild Card Rays, next we look at the A.L. East Division Champion Rays. The last couple of years, the Rays have been my default secondary team to root for. My wife has family down in the Tampa Bay area, so when they’re up, or if we go down to visit I end up watching quite a few Rays games. I also just like the team make up. I think they have some great young pitchers as well as position players. Bottom line, they’re a very exciting team to watch. It also makes it easy to root for them because one of my favorite bloggers happens to be a die-hard Rays fan. So far, they’re the front runner in my search for a team to be a front-runner of.

In the American League Central, we have the Minnesota Twins. I could see myself rooting for them. Mauer, Morneau, Span, Young and Cuddyer all, in my mind, are easy guys to root for. I also have to give some consideration to Pat Neshek for being such a good friend of the card community. Furthermore, when I was a young’un, I always liked Ron Gardenhire, who as we all know was a light hitting but likable shortstop for the Mets just prior to their World Series run in ’86. Part of me also wants to see them succeed just because all those Yankees fans seems to take it for granted that by playing the Twins first in the playoffs, they’re guaranteed to make it to the second round.

And finally, straight out of the west we have a surprise Texas Rangers team. So far, out of all the teams I’ve looked at, the Rangers have all the characteristics that I would look for in a postseason team. They’re another team that hasn’t done much of note in forever. They had some success in the mid to late 90’s, but have never been in a World Series. Additionally, as far as I know they weren’t really picked by a whole lot of folks to make much noise this year. That coupled with the fact that the team was facing bankruptcy for a large part of the season defiantly puts them in the underdog category in my book. I love rooting for the underdog. They also have a lot of guys that I really like and have liked for quite a few seasons. Josh Hamilton is awesome. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Jeff Francouer. I’ve always loved Vladdy, from back when he was an Expo. They have Darren Oliver, who was a key cog in the 2006 Mets success. Nelson Cruz. They have a guy named Elvis. I even have respect for Jorge Cantu. In 2008, I was able to score tickets to the final game at Shea Stadium (you know, the one where the Marlins knocked the Mets out of contention for the postseason on the last day of the season, again). After the Fish beat the Mets, many of the players came out onto the field to scoop up infield dirt, including Cantu, who filled up his batting glove with some dirt from behind home plate. At first I was kind of miffed at him for doing it. I mean, you come into our house, knock us out of the playoffs and have the nerve to take our dirt? But then I saw him give it to some 8 year old kid who was decked out in Mets gear, so I thought that was pretty cool of him. Again, going back to the radio call-ins from all those Yankees fans, I feel like since the Yankees are apparently so scared of them, I can’t help but root for them.

Well, after all that, I’m still not 100% sure. At this point I think it certainly comes down to either the Rays or the Rangers. I guess once I start watching the games I’ll know for sure.

One thing I do know, I don’t really care who wins as long as I don’t see another World Series that looks like this.

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